Inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A-(HMGCoA) reductase ameliorate glomerular pathology and renal dysfunction in different models of glomerular disease. This effect has generally been attributed to a decrease in the circulating levels of cholesterol. Focal or diffuse mesangial cell proliferation is a common feature of glomerular pathology. There is now evidence from studies in vitro and in vivo that platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) is an important mediator of glomerular hypercellularity. The activity of HMGCoA reductase has previously been shown to be a requirement for cell growth. In the present study, we examined the effect of simvastatin, and HMGCoA reductase inhibitor, on PDGF-induced DNA synthesis and PDGF B chain gene expression in human glomerular mesangial cells. In addition, we investigated the effect of simvastatin on phospholipase C (PLC) and protein kinase C (PKC) activation stimulated by PDGF. We demonstrate that treatment of the cells with simvastatin completely inhibits PDGF-induced DNA synthesis. This inhibition is reversed by mevalonate but not by cholesterol or farnesol, two major metabolites of the mevalonate pathway. On the other hand inhibition of HMGCoA reductase does not influence PDGF-induced activation of PLC and PKC, or PDGF B chain gene expression. These data suggest that simvastatin acts at a late step in the PDGF mitogenic pathway without interfering with other early cellular responses elicited by this growth factor. These studies also raise the possibility that the ameliorative effect of HMGCoA reductase inhibitors on glomerular pathology may be mediated, at least in part, by a direct cellular effect.